Month: May 2014

Your Legacy: What do you stand for?

Often when tragedy hits home and sometimes at a distance, depending on the scale of it, we are forced to think about our own mortality.

This was certainly the case last week for Britons upon hearing about the untimely death of heroic teenager Stephen Sutton, who raised more than 3 million pounds for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Stephen’s untimely death got me and many others thinking about legacy.  See my thoughts in my latest Huff Post blog on the subject and do share yours, too.

It’s a sensitive subject but one well worth considering.

Gnats in London, Anything but Idealistic

In the Georgia countryside where I grew up in the US, gnats were part of the landscape and surely still are. As a child, I remember that they were prevalent in the summer time, causing great disruption to play and picnics.

Having moved to the city, I thought gnats were long behind me. Not a chance.

Since the weather has begun to warm up in London, I have experienced swarms of them on the Thames Path, although they go by the name of midges, here.

Midges, gnats, they are all the same, if you ask me or pretty close kin anyhow. The thing is, however, I don’t remember gnats biting and swarming in the forefront all the time. Surely they crashed barbecues and ballgames regularly but either bored fairly quickly or sensed that they would be penalised if they didn’t leave. Away they went.

I have this image of seeing them in the distance, a part of the landscape. How very idealistic.

Realistically though, midges stake out in the path of walkers and runners and fly right along, until the next best thing happens by. So if you happen to be the only thing, so to speak, on the path, you’re fair game.

Apparently, midges live near water, which explains why I’ve only started to notice them lately.

Short of staying away from rivers, streams, etc. what are walkers, cyclists and runners to do? We could go out in only cold, rainy weather, but that wouldn’t do our attitudes or our physical health any good, would it?

So here are some tips gathered from gnat and midge dodgers around the world.

1)   Wear sunglasses at all times.

2)   Pull on a hat, too.

3)   And cover arms and legs if you can; apparently midges don’t bite through clothing.

4)   But wear light clothing instead of dark.

5)   In any case, spray on a bit of insect repellent.

6)   And by all means keep moving.

7)   But if you do get bitten, don’t sweat it. The best thing to do is to soap it to avoid bacteria.

Very well, I’ll give the tips a go. Still, who would have ever thought it—gnats in the city? Actually, they are midges. Whatever! They are all the same rotten lot.  And if you ask me, they are best left in a hazy memory, far, far away in the distance. Now that’s idealistic.

Order on the Capital’s Footpaths, please

Exploring London by foot is a not only a great way to get to know the capital, but also a good way to get around from A to Z, especially when there is a Tube strike on.

Even when there isn’t, more and more people are taking to the capital’s varied and intriguing paths, unless it is really raining. A little rain doesn’t stop the show here. Anyhow, that’s a good thing (using the footpaths, that is). Right?  So it is until the path becomes popular.

On the Thames Path, for instance, I’ve noticed negligence during peak times and now and again, a similar carelessness, off peak, too.

On one occasion, a group of people, out for a morning walk with two dogs, spread out over a wide area in a park and remained oblivious to runners, walkers, and cyclists alike. Many of us had to cut through the grass to dodge them.

Another time, a little girl played a game at a public gate, opening and closing it repeatedly, though there was a regular stream of people needing to go through. Meanwhile, her mom looked on as if others were causing problems, not her child.

And if that wasn’t discourteous enough, I’ve seen cyclists go straight in the path of a runner, albeit one time stragglers were causing hiccups. Surely still, there could have been a better way, unless, of course, this cyclist was dodging dog dirt—the epitome of carelessness.

Now, if road users acted so inconsiderate as to block the road just because they were having a leisurely drive, allow their children to close public gates to keep others from coming through, set their dogs free on the highway to do whatever they jolly well pleased, and drive right into oncoming traffic, we’d not only have countless minor incidents, but also numerous major accidents. Imagine!

Sounds farcical, doesn’t it. But when it’s happening on a footpath, it somehow becomes less ludicrous and more acceptable. That’s not a good thing at all. Our footpaths ought be enjoyable for everyone, not just a few.

Perhaps, a few rules are in order, even if they are unspoken, sort of like the ones in a supermarket. For instance, you wouldn’t ram your trolley into someone else’s, unless you were trying to get their attention and you certainly wouldn’t hop the queue at the checkout unless you wanted attention. But be warned, you might not like it when you get it!

Anyhow, I came up with a few rules, tips if you will, for keeping footpaths fun for everyone.

1)   Do move aside for others, an obvious one.

2)   Don’t allow your children to close public gates. Obvious, too!

3)   Do keep dogs on a leash. Maybe not so obvious.

4)   Don’t run or ride into oncoming walkers, runners or cyclists. Quite obvious!

5)   Do please, please, please clean up after your dog. Obviously if you don’t, no one will.

6)   And don’t laugh at others when a huge bird descends upon them.

No kidding. One Sunday afternoon, I went out for a run and noticed a woman, grab her child and run off from a squawking bird. I broke my run, perhaps to assist, but she shot by me, and when I saw the speed of the unhappy bird, I took off again, too.  Still, I couldn’t help noticing several people pointing and laughing. Not funny!

No pecking in order, full stop. But minding your manners and regarding others while meandering along a footpath is certainly in order. Do have your say here.